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I say peace to you

I say ‘Peace Upon You’

“For love of my brethren and friends, I say: Peace upon you!” (Ps 122:8).

The first atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, on Hiroshima, virtually levelling the city. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  About 140,000 died in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki. Half the deaths in each city occurred on the day of the blasts; with burns and radiation sickness claiming many lives more in the following weeks and months and years.

Pope Francis journeyed in Thailand and Japan from the 19th to 26th November 2019. On the first full day of his tour of Japan, Pope Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki and delivered a clear message: possessing or deploying atomic weapons is immoral.

The following is the opening paragraphs of his message delivered at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.

God of mercy and Lord of history, to you we lift up our eyes from this place, where death and life have met, loss and rebirth, suffering and compassion.

Here, in an incandescent burst of lightning and fire, so many men and women, so many dreams and hopes, disappeared, leaving behind only shadows and silence.  In barely an instant, everything was devoured by a black hole of destruction and death.  From that abyss of silence, we continue even today to hear the cries of those who are no longer.  They came from different places, had different names, and some spoke different languages.  Yet all were united in the same fate, in a terrifying hour that left its mark forever not only on the history of this country, but on the face of humanity.

Here I pay homage to all the victims, and I bow before the strength and dignity of those who, having survived those first moments, for years afterward bore in the flesh immense suffering, and in their spirit seeds of death that drained their vital energy.

I felt a duty to come here as a pilgrim of peace, to stand in silent prayer, to recall the innocent victims of such violence, and to bear in my heart the prayers and yearnings of the men and women of our time, especially the young, who long for peace, who work for peace and who sacrifice themselves for peace.  I have come to this place of memory and of hope for the future, bringing with me the cry of the poor who are always the most helpless victims of hatred and conflict.

 

Make us instruments and reflections of your peace

In a single plea to God and to all men and women of good will,
on behalf of all the victims of atomic bombings and experiments,
and of all conflicts,
let us together cry out from our hearts:
Never again war,
never again the clash of arms,
never again so much suffering!
May peace come in our time and to our world.

O God,
you have promised us that “mercy and faithfulness have met,
justice and peace have embraced;
faithfulness shall spring from the earth,
and justice look down from heaven” (Ps 84:11-12).

Come, Lord, for it is late,
and where destruction has abounded,
may hope also abound today
that we can write and achieve a different future.
Come, Lord, Prince of Peace!

Make us instruments and reflections of your peace!

“For love of my brethren and friends, I say: Peace upon you!” (Ps 122:8).

 (Extract from Pope Francis in his Message at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Sunday 2th November 2019.  Format created for this post).

See Full text of the Message by  Pope Francis at the Peace memorial in Hiroshima, 24th November 2019.

Also Pope Francis Calls Possession Of Nuclear Weapons Is ‘Immoral’ : NPR and Independent Catholic News – Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The symbolism of the crane

In Japan, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years.  As a result, in the  Japanese, Chinese and Korean culture, the crane represents good fortune and longevity.  The Japanese  refer to the crane as the “bird of happiness”.  The wings of the crane were believed to carry souls up to  paradise. Mothers who pray for the protection of the crane’s wings for their children will recite the  prayer:

“O flock of heavenly cranes cover my child with your wings.”

Traditionally, it was believed that if one folded 1000 origami cranes, one’s wish would come true.   It has also become a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times.  As a result, it has become  popular to fold 1000 cranes (in Japanese, called “senbazuru”). The cranes are strung together on strings – usually 25 strings of 40 cranes each.

 

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